Written by: Michael Den Boer on July 24th, 2009
Theatrical Release Date: Japan, 2008
Director: Yutaka Ohgi
Writers: Masashi Shimizu, Yutaka Ohgi
Cast: Mayu Asada, Mutsuo Yoshioka, Daisuke IIJima, Tsugumi Nagasawa, Akira Yamamoto
DVD released: July 14th, 2009
Approximate running time: 87 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Stereo Japanese
DVD Release: Cinema Epoch
Region Coding: Region 0 NTSC
Retail Price: $24.98
Passions of a Private Secretary was co-written and directed by Yutaka Ohgi (Secrets of a Desperate Housewife). The screenplay for Passions of a Private Secretary is loosely based on the writings of Japanese erotica novelist / writer Oniroku Dan who’s most famous novel Flower and Snake (Hana To Hebi) has seen several cinematic incarnations over the years.
The plot for Passions of a Private Secretary has all the core ingredients that one would expect from a film based on the writings of Oniroku Dan. At the core of this film is a young woman named Shizuko who works as a secretary at a firm that is owned by her fiancée’s father. When the story begins her life is as good as it gets as her wedding is just around the corner. To stir things up the plot introduces Koizumi a young man who used to work with Shizuko and he has been secretly harboring his true feelings for her. Koizumi is a complacent personality who just accepts things as they are so as not to offend anyone. Through a chance meeting he meets an S&M mistress named Nogami who helps him get in touch with his inner “Scorpion” which gives him the confidence to approach Shizuko and make his feelings for her explicitly clear. Slowly but surely with the help of Nogami he turns the once confident Shizuko into a submissive love doll. If things ended her maybe they would have lived happily ever after. Things are further complicated when a business associate of her fiancées father becomes infatuated and convinces Koizumi to let him have her in exchange for a promotion up the corporate ladder. While on the surface this appears to be what Koizumi most desires. He slowly becomes consumed with jealously when he sees Shizuko finding pleasure with another man.
The most compelling aspect of this film is the transformation of its lead character Shizuko (who literally goes through hell and back). Even though the film is built up primarily around its two lead characters Shizuko and Koizumi, there is a secondary character; Nogami whose nightmarish back-story helps her exudes the most sympathy out of any of the characters in this film. My favorite moment is the film is the dreamlike conclusion in which the viewer gets to see the newly transformed Shizuko. If any the one drawback this film has that it feels just a tad overlong at eighty seven minutes (most similar themed films are around the sixty to seventy minute mark in length). Ultimately despite the low budget origins of this production the inventive direction and solid performances from of all the cast are why this film work’s as well as it does.
Cinema Epoch presents Passions of a Private Secretary in an anamorphic widescreen that preserves the film’s original aspect ratio. This transfer has not been flagged for progressive playback. The interlaced image remains stable throughout with no excessive ghosting / blurring issues. Quality wise the image look sharp, colorful and black levels are strong throughout.
This release comes with one audio option a Dolby Digital stereo mix in Japanese. The audio is clear and free of any background noise or distortion. Removable English subtitles that are easy to read and error free have been provided.
Extras for this release consist of a gallery with eights stills and a promo image gallery of titles that are available on DVD from Cinema Epoch. Overall Passions of a Private Secretary gets a strong audio / video presentation from Cinema Epoch.